Correction: Teen birth rates down by 15 percent in Hennepin County

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.






Mike Opat, Hennepin County Commissioner, 612-348-7881
Katherine Meerse, Better Together Hennepin, 612-596-0996
Jill Farris, TeenWise Minnesota, 651-289-1381
Carolyn Marinan, Hennepin County Communications, 612-348-5969

News release 

Birth rates decrease by 15 percent for teenagers in Hennepin County

The number of Hennepin County teenagers who gave birth dropped significantly in 2013, continuing a downward trend that started in 2007.

Hennepin County's 15 percent decline in 2013 compares to a 9 percent decrease statewide, and a national drop of 10 percent.

In the county, a total of 597 babies were born to mothers who were between 15 and 19 years old. That compares to 701 babies born in 2012.

The data, released late last week, are the result of an analysis of birth certificates in Hennepin County. 

The numbers reflect a significant drop from 2007, when 1,170 babies were born to teen moms in the county. The statistics indicate several years of strong decreases that began to spread nationwide in 2008.

“To see Hennepin County’s rates fall below the state rate is especially exciting," said Katherine Meerse, manager of Better Together Hennepin, the county's teen pregnancy prevention initiative. "Our young people are making smart decisions, thanks to a lot of support from a range of community partners. But we need to remember that every year, more children become teens, and they need all of these supports as well. That is why potential funding declines are so concerning. Now is not the time to let our guard down.”

Among other factors, Hennepin County officials point to successful programs that divert teenagers from risky behaviors or aim to help them stay safe and healthy once they become sexually active. 

Some groups, including ethnic minorities, as well as those in foster care and in the corrections system, continue to experience higher numbers of teen births. Meerse points out that teen pregnancy is a health equity issue. The data reveals a 14-fold difference in teen birth rates across cities, as well as tremendous racial and ethnic disparities, demonstrating a continued need for targeted resources.

An investment into the future

Programs the county sponsors include supports for evidence-based, comprehensive sexuality education, targeted and specialized health care, youth service and leadership opportunities and programs that open the lines of communication between youth and trusted adults.  

Champions of those programs in Hennepin County warn, however, that though successes have followed years of ample public and private funding, the major sources of financial support are soon to run dry, leaving them to scramble to find new funding streams. 

Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, who has been supportive of the county’s work to prevent teen pregnancy, said that the work the county has done to help teenagers put off having children is an investment in the future – for teens and for taxpayers.

"Hennepin County is outperforming the rest of the state and country, and the persistent decline is a clear return on our investments," said Commissioner Mike Opat. "Teen parenthood is devastating to the potential of young people. We must continue to drive these rates down."

The picture is different at the city level. Particularly in smaller cities, with smaller populations of adolescents, a small change in the numbers can lead to a large change in the rates. For example, Brooklyn Center’s teen birth rate declined almost 35 percent between 2012 and 2013 and Richfield’s rate declined 28 percent. Meerse said it is especially encouraging that the cities where her program has focused continue to show steady and sometimes dramatic declines. While the rate in Minneapolis declined only 12.6 percent, that still represents 48 fewer babies born to teen mothers in 2013 than in 2012.

The financial side

Convincing teenagers to put off parenthood makes good fiscal sense, both socially and economically.

Teenagers who do not become parents are less likely to live in poverty and rely on public assistance. In fact, more than half of all human services spending in Minnesota goes to families that began with a teen parent, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and multiples of that in lost potential for young people. Children born to teen mothers are at higher risk for infant death, childhood health problems, cognitive and emotional delays, school struggles, a continued cycle of teen parenthood and multigenerational poverty. 

Hennepin County is leading an effort to examine funding patterns, collaboration opportunities, to share best practices and knock down institutional silos. Along with its partners, the county is working work to better coordinate funding, to seek out long-term, stable funding. The end goal is for their work to match the messages they’re sending to children and teens: Using the long view to work today for a better future.

Hennepin County partners with a variety of schools, clinics, and non-profits, including Teenwise Minnesota, a key statewide resource on adolescent sexual health, to provide proven programming to young people and their families. 

“We are working together to get better results for our teens,” said Jill Farris, director of training and education at TeenWise. “This is what happens when counties and communities invest in the well-being of their young people.”

For more information about Hennepin County's work to prevent teen pregnancy and a broader look at the impact of teen parenthood in the county, visit the Better Together Hennepin web page.

                                                             – 30 –

Look for more news on the Hennepin County website at